British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says his country is focusing on diplomacy and not "military options" following Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
"We will respond in a way that is considered but robust and we are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly, there will be serious consequences," Hunt told reporters late on July 19.
He added, though, that London was "not looking at military options - we are looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation."
Hunt is one of two candidates to replace Prime Minister Theresa May in the coming days following her standing down as Conservative Party leader. Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, however, looks to be the likely winner of the position.
British officials and their US allies condemned Iran's actions earlier on July 19 after Tehran seized the British tanker in the strait, one of the world's most strategic commercial shipping routes. Another tanker, identified as a British-operated, Liberian-flagged vessel, was also briefly stopped by Iranian security forces but later allowed to head on its way.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on July 19 said it had seized the British tanker, the Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz for an alleged failure "to respect international maritime rules."
The Stena Impero's owner and operator, Stena Bulk and Northern Marine, denied any violations. They issued a statement saying there were 23 seafarers aboard the tanker and that the company was unable to contact the vessel. They said there were no reported injuries among the crew, identified as being of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities.
Following the seizure, Hunt said he was "extremely concerned" by Iran's actions in the strait and called an urgent meeting of senior UK security officials "to review what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels."
The United States accused Tehran of "escalatory violence," and President Donald Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron about the perceived Iranian threat and said he would "talk to the UK" and "be working with the UK" in light of the latest developments.
Trump added, "This only goes to show what I'm saying about Iran: Trouble, nothing but trouble."
The fresh incidents follow a month of naval confrontations, seizures and reported shoot-downs of drones involving Iranian and Western vessels, along with accusations and counter-accusations of what happened and who is to blame.